Yakupov suffered a lower-body injury in a November 25 game against the Carolina Hurricanes when he got tangled up with a referee off a center-ice faceoff and had to be helped off the ice.
“There’s a chance [Yakupov] might be ready for tomorrow. I think he’s pretty darn close. He’s worked really hard,” McLellan said.
Yakupov echoed McLellan’s comments, showing a desire to get back in the lineup. “I think I’m ready to go. I want to help my team.”
The injury was a tough break on a strange accident for Yakupov. He started off the 2016 campaign strong on a line with Connor McDavid and Benoit Pouliot that had instant chemistry. He had two goals and eight assists in the 12 games before Connor McDavid was injured on November 3.
Yakupov will need to work to regain his rhythm with a team who has had a serious slide since coming back from the holiday break. The Oilers are 2-5-1 since the break. One win came in overtime, the other in a shootout. His return should be good news for the Oilers, who also expect to have McDavid back after the All-Star break.
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Dustin Nelson is the News Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s a contributor to Hockey Prospectus, Hockey Wilderness, and writes a column for Rotowire. He’s also written for Gone Puck Wild, Wild Xtra, InDigest, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Tiny Mix Tapes, Prefix Magazine & other publications. Have a tip? Email him at dlukenelson[at]gmail[dot]com.